“Our successful manufacturing journey is predicated on recognizing that the experts are, in the manufacturing area” said Jerry Solomon, Vice President for MarquipWardUnited’s (MWU) Baltimore Operations.
The Maryland-based manufacturer is a global leader in manufacturing equipment solutions and offering parts and service for the corrugated box industry. “We know that if we invest in our 300 associates that staff our operations, we will grow our business and we will help them grow as well,” said Solomon.
MWU is part of a much larger parent company, Barry-Wehmiller, which is comprised of nine divisions, and is a diversified $1 billion provider of manufacturing technology and consulting solutions, making it one the of the largest packaging machinery groups in the Western Hemisphere.
October 2000, Barry-Wehmiller acquired Marquip, Inc. and then in 2002 acquired Ward Machinery Company and United Container Machinery to form MarquipWardUnited. Since then, MWU has added Apollo Sheeters, VortX starch kitchens, and Curioni SpA to the family of companies. These moves added sophisticated corrugated equipment technology to the extensive Barry-Wehmiller product line, strengthening Barry-Wehmiller’s position in the global marketplace and enhancing its single-source capabilities in the fragmented packaging industry.
Barry-Wehmiller’s Chairman and CEO Robert Chapman has always wanted to make a lasting and positive impact on the individuals and families that are touched by Barry-Wehmiller. Jerry Solomon is the author of Who’s Counting and Leading Lean; in addition, he is a practitioner of the Lean Business philosophy. The combination of the people centric focus of Lean is what makes MWU and Barry-Wehmiller unique. As a result, team members have embraced Lean as the means of living out Barry-Wehmiller’s Guiding Principles of Leadership to the fullest.
In 2007, Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc. gathered a group of about 20 team members to brainstorm how to align their leadership principles with the concepts of Lean, and created the Living Legacy of Leadership, or “L3.” In an effort to use the power of business to make a profound, positive impact on the world by the way they engage and enrich their team members, Chapman established Barry-Wehmiller University to help grow leaders for the company.
“Leadership used to be more supervisory, but true leadership is really hard work,” said Terry Hayes, Assembly Team Leader at MWU. “We realized we had a deficit of leadership skills and L3 is slowly transforming the company as we enroll over 5000 of our associates in our University.”
As a result of its commitment to lean, the MWU facility is changing their facility layout for continuous improvement which results in improvements to inventory and minimizing waste. MWU produces 40 to 60 machines annually and currently, they have a six-month backlog. “We are constrained when it comes to responding to lead times right now, so production set up will need to be decreased,” said Hayes. “We need to focus on shortening the process,” he said.
MWU has made a significant investment to ensure that the teams that work on all three shifts operate in a well laid out facility, with abundant signage about team work, lean and accountability to create a highly visual workplace. The firm continues to look for better efficiencies between maintenance and production. They are proud of their safety record which includes only one accident over the last 13 years.
The lackluster performance of the U.S. economy has not affected their current sales cycle. With a back log of equipment waiting in the wings, and a global sales force MWU is positioned for the future. Diversity within the business, has kept them strong as well, which includes an Aftermarket sales focus. MWU rebuilds equipment and retrofits them for modern use. This profit center makes up 30 to 40 percent of growth. Additionally, to continue to serve their customers, they have recently expanded the spare parts manufacturing to deliver parts sooner, and as a benefit it has expanded profits.
MWU committed to the Lean process and benefited immensely in terms of increased productivity based on its bottom up leadership. Now they have taken their Lean journey a step further to becoming a “green manufacturer” by cutting back on their energy use, minimizing their waste and in turn, lessoning their carbon foot print.
“If we can become more profitable by using less energy and minimizing our waste, that’s good for our bottom line and it’s good for the environment,” said Solomon. “It’s really important for us to understand our energy footprint.”
MWU made a significant investment in retrofitting the lighting fixtures within the entire Hunt Valley facility. Now it wants to measure the improvements from its energy upgrades. They also have an extensive machine shop and assembly area and have found it difficult to measure the energy impact from each piece of production equipment. They were interested in learning more about how the electric utility fee structure works, so that they could reduce costs there as well.
Last August, MWU joined an energy conservation initiative led by the Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland to investigate how to reduce energy costs and gain a better understanding of their energy purchasing options.
RMI has deployed energy experts to the facility to analyze energy use including: assessing the energy intensity of machines; checking for leaks in the air compression systems; assessing the HVAC chillers and boilers and reviewed their energy bills to provide a holistic picture of energy expenditures. The result helped MWU to specify a waste heat recovery system for compressed air and helped identify $17,000 in wasted energy leaks in the air compression system. “We know there are great opportunities for cost savings through energy efficiency and conservation,” said Solomon.
“Not unlike our commitment to Lean, we want to make everyone more aware of their individual role in the company so they can understand conserving energy,” said Solomon. “If we can get our associates to see the value in just turning out the lights when not needed, we’ll be well on our way.”
“Lean and green are interwoven” said Jeff Fuchs, Director of the Maryland World Class Consortia and Lean consultant to MWU. “MWU is truly an industry lean leader and their recent sustainability efforts which are based on increasing efficiencies, minimizing wastes and lessening their carbon footprint go hand and hand with the vision of L3,” he said.
With Jerry Solomon leading the way on energy conservation at MarquipWardUnited, their sustainability efforts could be a great model for the rest of the Barry-Wehmiller-Companies, Inc.
By Peter R. Gourlay, RMI Green Team Coordinator and Columnist for Manufacturing Today Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.